It appears that Samson was Israel’s last judge. [ update 3/21/07: since writing this I learned about Eli in 1 Samuel. He is now the latest Judge that I have read about. ] The story of Samson’s life is clear that he struggled with desiring women. Yet God used him as a Judge. Samson performs many great feats of strength. He killed 1,000 warriors single handed with only a donkey’s skull. He lifted a city gate off of its hinges and carried the gate away. And he could do all of this because God made him strong. And what God used was his hair. Samson’s strength was in his hair. And if Samson could have kept this secret his story may have been a bit longer. But he met a woman named Delilah and he fell in love with her. She is hired by some Phillistines to find out what gives him his great strength so they can kill him. So she keeps trying to get Samson to tell her his secret. He lies three times to her but each time she organizes an ambush for him to be killed. Interesting that Samson let his love blind him so much. But Delilah nags him so much that he finally tells her the secret. And she has his hair cut off while he is sleeping. The Phillistines then capture him and gauge his eyes out.
They then take Samson back to their temple to celebrate their victory. During this time some of Samson’s hair begins to grow back and he prays to the Lord to allow him to destroy the Phillistines that have done this. God gives him back his strength and he smashes a pillar in the temple. The temple comes crashing down killing Samson and everyone in the temple.
Really the only things I have taken from the story of Samson is that God can use men with some serious flaws, and it shows us how vulnerable men are to desiring a woman.
The book of Judges ends with a description of how all of Israel bands together against the tribe of Benjamin. They kill almost everyone in the entire tribe of Benjamin, all but 600 men. Israel did this because the tribe of Benjamin allowed a woman who was a Levite mans wife to be raped to the point of death. Israel united to rid this sin from Israel.
The Book of Judges ends with Israel having no King. And Israel continuing to do whatever they want, not looking to God and following Him.
In those days Israel had no King; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. – Judges 21:25
So essentially through the book of Judges I have watched Israel fall away from the Lord, come back a little, and then fall further away. Israel’s future overall does not look good at this point unless they make some dramatic changes, mainly begin following the Lord alone and not having other gods.